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City of Calgary To Implement Ethical Policy, Attend to Living Wage Issues

January 22, 2007


Estelle Kuzyk,
Executive Member, Calgary and District Labour Council

Today, Calgary City Council approved implementation of the Sustainable Environmental and
Ethical Procurement Policy (SEEPP), and will include Living Wage issues in the further
development of this Policy. Pilot implementation on apparel, food products and chemicals will
begin in 2007, however the Policy is intended to eventually apply to all goods and services
purchased by the City of Calgary. The SEEPP fulfills several commitments to the Triple Bottom
Line principles adopted by the City of Calgary.

This is a gratifying day for all of the community organizations that have worked in coalition for
several years to help bring this Policy to fruition. The Calgary No Sweat Coalition members
include the Calgary and District Labour Council (CDLC), Women's Centre (Calgary), CUSO,
Oxfam, Vibrant Communities Calgary (VCC) and RESULTS Calgary, and we have the support of
numerous other organizations in Calgary.

The SEEPP has taken over 2 years to develop and our Coalition Members have been diligently
involved throughout this process. With the inclusion of "Green" products, we believe a new
standard of ethical procurement has been set which will hopefully encourage other Canadian
municipalities to begin the process of implementing ethical policies of their own. Attention to
Living Wage issues in this Policy will address the positive social impacts of workers being able to
live on that which they are paid.

Although Living Wage issues were promoted and acknowledged throughout the Policy
development process, it was determined by City Administration that they could not be researched
in relation to this Policy, because "Living Wage has not been adopted as a City standard"
providing any direction from City Council on this issue.

In response to this position, the Labour Council and our Coalition Partners made presentations to
the Standing Policy Committee (S.P.C.) on Finance and Corporate Services on January 10, 2007,
in order to support implementation of the SEEPP and garner Council direction to address Living
Wage issues. Representatives from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business made
presentations slamming the plan.

After all presentations, the 10 Council Members on the Committee voted to adopt the SEEPP to
"specifically facilitate the commodity evaluations on a pilot implementation basis for apparel, food
and chemicals in 2007". Amendments were made which directed Administration to report back to
Committee in November, 2007 regarding a cost evaluation of the pilot implementation and risk
analysis to estimate the future impact on City budgets. The S.P.C. on Finance and Corporate
Services additionally directed Administration to report back to Committee on "the implications
from a Triple Bottom Line context of including Living Wage in Sustainable Environmental
and Ethical Procurement/Supplier Code of Conduct." Administration was specifically directed
by the Committee to continue to work with the Calgary and District Labour Council and our
Coalition Partners on the implementation and further development of this Policy.

The favourable decision of the S.P.C. was addressed by Calgary City Council today and was
overwhelmingly supported, with only one Alderman opposed.
Aldermen Joe Ceci and Druh Farrell spoke in favour of the Committee decision, and Alderman
Farrell also acknowledged the numerous letters received from a plethora of community
organizations supporting both Policy implementation and inclusion of Living Wage in the
SEEPP. In fact, many organizations and businesses have already implemented and promoted
the payment of a Living Wage here in Calgary.

Aldermen Madelaine King and Barry Erskine also made speeches extolling the virtues of the
SEEPP, and these are notable.

Alderman King commented:

"Prior to the Committee meeting I must say I was concerned about the effect on small
businesses in Calgary. But I think that it became clear through the presentations made to
us at the Committee that small businesses were unlikely to be negatively impacted and
that this was a process that needed to start.

"Many of the people who have phoned and emailed have actually been small business
people. They have been more concerned with equality in Calgary and in the leadership
role of City Council than they have been about the possibility of some minor extra
paperwork, and that's been very interesting to see.

"I think it was clear by the end of the Committee hearing that this was definitely
something that we should be moving ahead with, and I will certainly support it today."

Alderman Erskine expressed:

"I will be supporting this, and the reason I'll support it is because I really think it's
important that as a government, as a level of government, that we provide an ethical
compass for the people we work with and for ourselves especially, and also for our
citizens. I think what we're doing here is we're agreeing on a direction. How we get to
that direction has a lot to things to be worked out and we have to be very, very careful. I
don't think there's a blanket solution or a black and white solution. I think there's a lot of
gray in this, but I think the direction that we're looking for is one of being ethical and
improving the ethical behavior of our procurement and what impact we may have on
others.

"There will be many groups that will utilize that type of decision politically, unfortunately,
in the sense that, well, these group of companies don't fall into our area so therefore
we're not going to support them, all that kind of stuff. So we're going to have to sift
through this stuff and make the right decisions, but most of all set the direction and
hopefully the targets will be met as we move through this.

"I think it's about time that we're doing it and I would like to see this at the Provincial and
the Federal level, and I think it's extremely important."

In response to a query about the necessity of a policy when the City seemed to already be trying
to act ethically, Owen Tobert, City Manager, replied:

"I believe it has to do with a concern that the City of Calgary be seen as a leader - a leader on
this issue with respect to sending a signal that we are desirous of becoming a compass to show
others on what is a better way to be seen to act. It's not enough just to act. It's important to be
seen to be acting."
The City of Calgary purchases about $900 million of goods and services a year. The SEEPP can
have a positive impact locally, nationally and internationally. Certainly, it sets a direction for
businesses and other public institutions to follow.

We hope that all groups across Canada that are working to persuade their municipal
governments to attend to Ethical and Living Wage issues are encouraged by the direction
Calgary has taken today.